Of Time And The City tugs meaning from memory.
OF TIME AND THE CITY (Terence Davies). 77 minutes. Opens Sunday (February 1) at the Bloor Cinema. See Indie & Rep Film. Rating: NNNN
Terence Davies doesn't make movies very often, so when he does we really need to pay attention.
Eight years after his excellent adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House Of Mirth, Davies has produced his first documentary, Of Time And The City, a gorgeous, elegiac film about his hometown of Liverpool. Commissioned in 2007 to commemorate the city's designation as the European City of Culture, the movie premiered at Cannes last spring and spent the subsequent months working its way through the film festival circuit.
Gliding through old photographs and archival footage, Davies narrates the story of his young life with growling contempt for the obstacles placed in his way by class and religion. The film is as much about the development of his personal landscape as it is of his literal one. It's only 77 minutes long, but it spans decades. And it's enthralling.
As in Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, there's a sense of alternate history at work here. The difference is that Maddin's film invented entire sequences of puckish fiction to turn his documentary into a complicated work of outsider art, while Davies achieves the same effect without inventing a thing. He's been on the outside the whole time.